Mitch Kupchak Draftees Interview

Mitch Kupchak Comments on Draftees

Mitch fielded questions from the local media on draft night and Lakers.com was on hand. Below are Mitch's comments on the players we drafted at #19, Javaris Critteton, #40, Sun Yue and #48, Marc Gasol.

On Javaris Crittenton, the Lakers pick at #19 in the 2007 NBA Draft

Q: Did you expect Javaris to be available at this position?

Mitch: No we did not, we had him rated considerably higher than the 19th pick. We were surprised that he was available to us at this pick.

Q: What did you see that made you like him?

Mitch: We do need help in the back court, but he's another young player and we've got a young point guard and I'm sure Jordan is wondering right now why the did the Lakers do what they did, but that stuff gets sorted out in training camp and during the season. We like his (Javaris') size and his strength and power for playing the position. He's only a freshman so he's a young developing ball player. Most of the players in the draft, as you'll see, are young players and the hard part about getting a young player is that and you have to wait sometimes for their talent to develop. So it may take some time. This kid is clearly a talented ball-handling guard. He has great size, great power, great athletic ability and if you watch him play or watch clips of him, you'll see that.

Q: Why did you draft a young point guard after saying last week that you were more interested in getting a veteran ball handling guard?

Mitch: When you draft in the late teens and 20's you don't have the luxury of drafting a player, unlike the players in the first 5 picks of the draft, based solely on your needs at a position. We take into consideration the position when we do draft, but we just felt that this player's talent, even though we have a young point guard already, was too good to pass up.

Q: Did you bring him in for a workout? Besides his athletic ability what did you know about his character?

Mitch: We have a process that we go through with testing, we interview players and we give them a little pop video quiz. We have a methodology to try to get to know the players on and off the court. He seemed like a nice kid. And I think the people in Los Angeles will be like him. Clearly we were comfortable with him because we drafted him.

Q: Can you see him contributing next year?

Mitch: I think said at the conclusion of the season, when you draft a player, beyond 15 or so, you're probably not going to get a player that's going to help you that year, that's just not how it is. If you look back on this last year's draft, you'll see guys that were drafted in the Top 10 who, with the exception of a couple of players, got like 7 points and 4 rebounds. And that's just the way it is with the draft today. It didn't used to be that way 20 years ago. The draft is loaded with young players, freshman and sophomores, a few juniors and hardly any seniors.

On Sun Yue, the Lakers pick at #40 in the 2007 NBA Draft

Q: What did you like about Sun Yue?

Mitch: First off you need to know about where he's been and his history with the Chinese basketball association and the fact that he's been in this country playing in the ABA in Southern California. He's been in the Orland pre-draft camp too. Through these we've gotten to know him. He's a draft eligible player and he really is talented.

He's got great size, he's an excellent athlete and he's got a really good feel for the game. He might even be able to play some guard at 6'7", 6'8". He's a good shooter. We just think he's a good basketball player. He does a lot of things well and he's got great size for a guy who can handle the ball.

Q: Did it help that he was playing here in LA? It's much closer than China.

Mitch: We did see him play here. I did get to China this year, but he was here in southern California. It helped, we had scouted him (in the ABA), but it was best to see him play against players of his level of competition. In Orlando, you get to see the guy for a full week and then we brought him in for a work out against other top players and interviewed him. We were impressed.

We're uncertain for next season as to his availability and the same thing goes for Marc Gasol and that was by design. We have with our draft choice (Javaris Crittenton) 11 players under contract and we plan to carry maybe 14 next year (teams are allowed to carry a maximum of 15 players). With the 2 picks, we didn't want to draft a player and then cut the player because there was no room on the roster. So we looked at those 2 picks, 40 and 48, as perhaps a pick or 2 where we could perhaps work with the player and keep him playing internationally for a season or 2 and perhaps if the timing was right, bring him on this year or next year. So those 2 players are prospects that we thought might come play with us early or perhaps continue to play overseas.

Q: How long do you keep their rights?

Mitch: We keep their rights as long as we continue to tender a contract.

On Marc Gasol, the Lakers pick at #48 in the 2007 NBA Draft

Q: How does Marc Gasol compare to his brother Pau (with the Grizzlies)?

Mitch: He's Pau's younger brother. He's a center. They both have great hands and they're both really good basketball players in terms of seeing the floor, making plays. Marc maybe a little bigger and less athletic. It took him longer to develop. He was a little heavier early on in life. He went to high school in Memphis and now he's furthered his career in his native country (Spain) and he's really gotten better over the past year or 2 against good competition. He's a center that we'll continue to monitor that could perhaps play with us this year, perhaps not, but either way we're ok with it.